Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

March 16, 2014
Advance toward developing an oral pain reliever derived from debilitating snail venom
Scientists reported today on at least five new experimental substances -- based on a tiny protein found in cone snail venom -- that could someday lead to the development of safe and effective oral medications for the treatment of chronic nerve pain.

Novel gene-finding approach yields a new gene linked to key heart attack risk factor
Scientists have discovered a previously unrecognized gene variation that makes humans have healthier blood lipid levels and reduced risk of heart attacks -- a finding that opens the door to using this knowledge in testing or treatment of high cholesterol and other lipid disorders.

Potentially safer, greener alternative to BPA could come from papermaking waste
A waste product from making paper could yield a safer, greener replacement for the potentially harmful chemical BPA, now banned from baby bottles but still used in many plastics.

Newly identified small-RNA pathway defends genome against the enemy within
For a plant to create reproductive cells, it must first erase a series of tags attached to DNA across the genome that distinguish active and inactive genes.

High-tech materials purify water with sunlight
Sunlight plus a common titanium pigment might be the secret recipe for ridding pharmaceuticals, pesticides and other potentially harmful pollutants from drinking water.

How diabetes drugs may work against cancer
Scientists at Whitehead Institute have pinpointed a major mitochondrial pathway that imbues cancer cells with the ability to survive in low-glucose environments.

Better-tasting reduced-fat desserts, dressings, sauces: Coming soon?
Adjusting the calcium level and acidity could be the key to developing new better tasting, more eye-appealing and creamier reduced-fat sauces, desserts and salad dressings, researchers reported here today.

Researchers: Northeast Greenland ice loss accelerating
An international team of scientists has discovered that the last remaining stable portion of the Greenland ice sheet is stable no more.

Southern Ocean iron cycle gives new insight into climate change
Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found unique aspects of iron cycling in the Southern Ocean which will better inform scientists about the effects of climate change.

Nectar: A sweet reward from plants to attract pollinators
Evolution is based on diversity, and sexual reproduction is key to creating a diverse population that secures competitiveness in nature.

The rush to rain
A new analysis of satellite data reveals a link between dust in North Africa and West Asia and stronger Indian monsoons.

Regional warming triggers sustained mass loss in Northeast Greenland ice sheet
The longest glacier in Greenland is continuing to lose mass despite temperatures in the region returning to more typical values after a localized increase, a study published today in Nature Climate Change has found.

Cancer therapy may be too targeted
Targeted therapies seem to be the future of cancer treatment, but can they be too narrowly focused?

Vast gene-expression map yields neurological and environmental stress insights
A consortium led by Berkeley Lab scientists has conducted the largest survey yet of how information encoded in an animal genome is processed in different organs, stages of development, and environmental conditions.

Bionic plants
MIT researchers find that nanotechnology could turn shrubbery into supercharged energy producers or sensors for explosives.

Major 'third-hand smoke' compound causes DNA damage -- and potentially cancer
Leftover cigarette smoke that clings to walls and furniture is a smelly nuisance, but now research suggests that it could pose a far more serious threat, especially to young children who put toys and other smoke-affected items into their mouths.

Climate change will reduce crop yields sooner than we thought
A study led by the University of Leeds has shown that global warming of only 2 C will be detrimental to crops in temperate and tropical regions, with reduced yields from the 2030s onwards.

Tequila plant is possible sweetener for diabetics -- helps reduce blood sugar, weight
A sweetener created from the plant used to make tequila could lower blood glucose levels for the 26 million Americans and others worldwide who have Type 2 diabetes and help them and the obese lose weight, researchers said here today.

Less is more: New theory on why very low nutrient diets can extend lifespan
UNSW scientists have developed a new evolutionary theory on why consuming a diet that is very low in nutrients extends lifespan in laboratory animals -- research that could hold clues to promoting healthier aging in humans.

Three-quarters of people with seasonal and pandemic flu have no symptoms
Around one in five of the population were infected in both recent outbreaks of seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, but just 23 percent of these infections caused symptoms, and only 17 percent of people were ill enough to consult their doctor.

Mercury's contraction much greater than thought
New global imaging and topographic data from MESSENGER show that the innermost planet has contracted far more than previous estimates.

Nectar: A sweet reward from plants to attract pollinators
To make sure that flying pollinators come to flowers to pick up pollen, plants evolved special organs, the nectaries, to attract the animals.

Mercury contracted more than prior estimates, evidence shows
New evidence gathered by NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft at Mercury indicates the planet closest to the sun has shrunk up to seven kilometers in radius over the past four billion years, much more than earlier estimates.

Novel membrane reveals water molecules will bounce off a liquid surface
This study may lead to more efficient water-desalination systems, fundamental understanding of fluid flow.

Chinese scientists report new findings on mutations identification of esophageal cancer
The all-round work was published online today in the international journal Nature, providing a new eye-opening insight into developing novel biomarkers for therapeutic strategies of this most common form of esophageal cancer.

Honey is a new approach to fighting antibiotic resistance: How sweet it is!
Honey, that delectable condiment for breads and fruits, could be one sweet solution to the serious, ever-growing problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics, researchers said here today.

Thermal vision: Graphene light detector first to span infrared spectrum
The first room-temperature light detector that can sense the full infrared spectrum has the potential to put heat vision technology into a contact lens.
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